a cork board


Till the Morning (A Short Story)
AMpThu, 17 Mar 2016 11:38:41 +000038Thursday 1, 2010, 11:38 am
Filed under: the ether, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

A couple of years ago I submitted a shorty story to the CBC short story contest. It came from a fragment of free-writing I’d written about 5yrs earlier that I’d always wanted to build on. I tried to give the fragment legs and meat and bone. I tried to bring it to life and give it breath. So I paid the fee, submitted my work and held my breath for a few months. Obviously I didn’t win, didn’t come in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th. Failure can make you question things. So I re-read the whole thing again and again and again. My conclusion? That it was total shit. Who was I to think my amateur writing and poor structure could compete with the others? So I buried it. Never shared, never read again….until today. I just randomly decided to share this story that I deemed absolute garbage and unworthy of public eyes. I decided to share it because I put so much into it and believed in it so much at one point. It was originally a lot longer but I edited it down by over 500 words to meet the word count requirement. I was going to post the unedited version, but I just realized how incomplete it actually is, so I’m posting the edited version that I submitted. Feedback is welcome. If anyone is interested I can post the unedited version too. I want to be a better story teller. I want to get better at writing prose. Here goes….

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Until The Morning

The morning came quickly; he was still throwing javelins at the fall of night. The sheets were cold at his back as the sun crept into a hungry sky. The birds were not singing and the sky was wrapped in a soft hue of blue. It was early, the world was still asleep. Knowing what would greet him, he didn’t want to turn to the pillow next to him. He knew she would fade before morning as if the previous night was but a dream. It played out like his favorite movie; he knew the ending all too well, but still kept pressing play.

She smiled with a falsehood he had known since grade-school. He was always a nervous wreck around women. When he first tried to speak to her, his tongue would swell and nothing came out. She was his world and loved being put on a pedestal, so she asked him out one day. It was the most glorious moment in his life. To him, love was about surrendering and he wanted her to feel loved unconditionally, so he gave up everything. But she saw it as a weakness and ended up feelng sorry for him.

When her palm touched his skin he could feel her withdraw. The space between them in intimate moments somehow managed to become immense, but he saw something he swore was real, and he wanted more than anything to believe in it. That’s what kept him coming back, if only to believe in something. What he saw was fragments of her youth, the innocence of her adolescence; he fell in love with a memory. One that felt like it was a lifetime ago, one he longed for her to remember. And that made her feel like she could somehow be redeemed.

He turned to the next pillow, folding his body from one shoulder to the next, finding what he knew he would, an impression of her face; the foundation, the eye shadow, the lip gloss and some wisps of hair. Her scent lived in his sheets and smelled like home. It wasn’t perfume, just her. He would inhale her before opening his eyes in the morning with the hope that his eyelids parting would reveal her presence as he felt it. But she always left before sunrise. She waited until he was dreaming about her spinning pirouettes atop glaciers and falling in love with him; then she would be gone, not willing to face the morning where there is no face to put on.

She wanted her mornings for reflection. She wanted solitude, so she left every chance she got. When he called her, he didn’t let his pain show. He simply said, “I missed you this morning.” A long pause was interrupted only by the laboured inhale of her cigarette, and then more silence. He wet his lips before he spoke into the phone, “When will I see you again?” then, “are you there?”

It pulled her back into the moment long enough to mutter, “Yeah, sorry. Whenever.” She was always vague and noncommittal in her answers, keeping him at a safe distance while never completely pushing him away. But he wanted her to love him the way he loved her, so he stuck around. He was okay with waiting, no matter how long it took.

He spoke as if he wanted her to pull him back into the conversation “So…I’ll just call you later then?”

Her voice trailed off as if she were thinking of the future, “Yeah, that’s fine. You know where to find me.”

They exchanged goodbyes, the line clicked and he sat on the edge of his bed with the phone still loosely gripped between his fingers as his shoulders started to slump.

He remembered the first time he waited for his father to come home. Each hour that passed draped his shoulders further. It would be the first of many times his father let him down. He would always wait for his parents to rescue him, but they never did. So he put on a strong demeanor to face the world. He found solace in retreating to the recesses of his mind. He always longed to feel loved.

He looked down at the screen on his phone, her eyes looking back at him now. He thought of all the time he’d spent waiting, about how he wanted the space between them to disappear, how he longed take up residence in her heart. A resolve started swelling in his throat; it travelled down to his chest. It made him stand up. It made his ears ring loud with the sound of his beating heart. He was tired of waiting. He had to tell her everything and he had to do it now. He looked at her on the screen of his phone again; she was still there.

It felt like the phone rang for an eternity, “Hello?”

There was a sense of urgency in his voice, “What are you doing right now?”

Her lighter flicked three times, the embers crackled and she inhaled slowly “Nothing really, I’ve got a few days off.”

He wasted no time, “I need to see you, I’m on my way.”

Her head filled with questions, “um, okay…what’s the deal?” but it was too late. The line had clicked and he was already running down the stairs.

He gripped the steering wheel firm as he raced to her apartment, flying from one lane to the next. His heart was pounding in his chest; his mind was focused. When he got there, she stood blankly looking at him in the doorway. Her left hand was resting on the doorknob while her right hand hung loosely at her waist holding a cigarette with smoke cascading up her arm. He averted his gaze from hers and took a deep breath before looking up. He stepped forward with his right foot, then his left. He reached out his left hand and took hold of her right palm. She looked up at him, bewildered. He placed his right hand on the nape her neck and pressed his lips firmly against hers. He kissed her in a way that spoke the words he never could. The cigarette fell from her fingers and crashed on the floor while her right hand slid up his back. They kissed in the doorway until he pulled away, rested his forehead on her’s and looked intently into her eyes. The corners of her mouth pinched upwards into her cheeks as a smile exposed her teeth, “Okay” she said.

The night came quickly amidst a whirlwind of letting go. They raced into the setting sun as if they were meant to catch it. When the moon came, it basked them in resplendent light. The ground shook with their love-making like the earth under a herd of running buffalos. It was beautiful madness the way they wrapped themselves into one another. When all of the exuberance was over and all of their energy spent, they found themselves in his bed again; her shoulder blade cupped comfortably into his chest; his arm wrapped into her frame; her hair carelessly strewn across his pillow; the same way it had always been. He drifted into that dream again, the one where she was spinning like a ballerina atop a glacier; the one where she fell in love with him.

The sheets were cold at his back as dawn creaked into the horizon. He inhaled deeply; it smelled the same way it always did, like her. The birds were silent and the world was still asleep. The sound of his breath filled the room. He didn’t want to turn to the pillow again, he couldn’t fathom that this morning would start the same as the others. The sheets were still cold at his back, he opened his eyes slowly. She was there, looking back at him. The dawn looked magnificent upon her face. She wore a smile that spoke of repose. Her eyes were fixated on his as she gently placed the palm of her left hand onto his face. He chuckled in disbelief, “You’re still here.”

She kissed him softly, with her eyes closed. He could feel the warmth of sleep on her skin as her arm slid around his torso, her legs caressed his. She sank into his embrace. She looked to be at peace as she smiled again and released another breath. Her eyes met his as countless unspoken sentiments were exchanged.

She said “good morning” and a new day began.

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